Even though doubt has been cast on the accuracy of the story told by Schaapkraal resident Darryn August about how he ended up seriously injured on the side of the train tracks, none of the people who pledged money towards his cause has asked for a refund.
Darryn, 27, formerly of Hazendal, was hailed as a hero in 2016 when he told of how he had been thrown off a moving train by men who started robbing passengers as the train left Firgrove station with only four people on board.
Darryn claimed to have boarded the train at Hazendal station, to make his way to work in Somerset West, just before 8am.
His brother, Bernard, told Athlone News that Darryn had been seated closest to the door, making him the first target (“Help pours in for man thrown from train”, Athlone News, May 11 2016).
Darryn claimed to have been robbed of his sling bag, containing his iPad, ID, train ticket and some cash.
As the robbers had approached a pregnant commuter in the corner of the carriage, Darryn said he had stood up and defended her.
He claimed to have been stabbed in his head, hit with a crowbar and thrown out of the train.
A maintenance worker found Darryn lying on the side of the tracks three hours later.
He was left paralysed from the waist down.
More than half-a-million rand was raised for Darryn’s medical bills through the crowd funding platform, Back-a-Buddy.
However, investigative journalism programme Carte Blanche found inconsistencies in Darryn’s version of what took place on that day, Monday April 25 2016, as well as what subsequently transpired.
They spoke to the maintenance worker who said that when he found Darryn on the side of the tracks, he had not seen any blood, even after the paramedics had arrived, despite Darryn saying he had been stabbed.
They also said that when they called Parasport trainers at Stellenbosch University to film Darryn, who claimed he was training for the 2020 Paralympics, they did not know who he was.
Also in question were circumstances around the case.
Darryn had apparently told the police that he did not want to press charges due to religious reasons but told the public that he had hired a private investigator due to the lack of police work on the case.
Darryn had told Carte Blanche that he had had a three-hour meeting at Macassar police station with the men responsible for throwing him out of the train, but the station’s colonel had said he was unaware of that meeting.
It appears that Darryn has now gone to ground and nobody has been able to reach him for the past two weeks.
Back-a-Buddy’s chief operations officer, Catherine du Plooy, said not all the funds raised for Darryn’s medical bills had been used.
“We have been communicating with all of our sponsors and none of them have asked for their money back. I think because he still fell from a train and is paralysed no matter how it happened,” said Ms Du Plooy.
“This campaign showed the giving nature of South Africans to support each other, I hope that they keep it up.”
Ms Du Plooy said although the television programme had caused controversy, she urged South Africans to keep supporting the organisation.
“Wearefeelingquite disappointed as Back-a-Buddy’s integrity has now been questioned. We hope that all of the people who still need help won’t be affected by this. We have been trying to contact Darryn but he has not answered,” she said.